Pussy Riot should not be surprised to be in gaol

The media seem to be getting very sanctimonious about the three women who have been locked up in Russia for staging some form of protest against Vladimir Putin in a Russian Orthodox Cathedral.

Easter Sunday 1998

I am not suggesting we should lock up protesters in the same way in this country although I remember Peter Tatchell staging a protest in Canterbury Cathedral on Easter Sunday in 1998.  It was during a sermon by the then Archbishop, Dr Carey and I must confess to a passing feeling that Tatchell deserved to be locked up for infringing the rights of god-fearing people in that congregation to a peaceful enjoyment of Easter. On reflection, I suspect his being found guilty under some obscure 1860 piece of church law and fined for his misdeed prevented him from flaunting his martyrdom if he had been incarcerated.

However, to return to the three ladies known as Pussy Riot, I see The Guardian has a headline that shrieks in its usual sanctimonious style “It took a bunch of bright, sassy women in colourful balaclavas to blow the lid off Putin’s Russia.  What Pussy Riot have done is show up the machinery of the state for what it is: scary, violent, punitive and male.”  Well, that may be a surprise to The Guardian but I don’t think it is much of a surprise to the rest of us. I would be very hesitant to travel to or through Russia for any reason. It is clearly not a true democracy; the break up of the old Soviet Union has clearly led to the replacing of one set of baronies with another – mainly oligarchs who have taken control of large parts of the economy and maintain that control by means that we would not regard as in any way acceptable in this country.  We have seen too many mysterious deaths and imprisonments to be left in any doubt as to how this country is run.

So, I am afraid Pussy Riot have only themselves to blame for ending up in jail.   I don’t know what Russian prisons are like but I suspect they are grim, that women’s prisons are probably worse than men’s and that they will be speedily sent as far away from their friends as is possible in a country of 6½ million square miles. I hope they survive their prison regime in what is clearly a brutal country, run by a brutal government and their one hope for survival may be the level of interest that is shown in them by the world media. It may also depend on their ability to be silent and submissive until their release although this may test them to the limit.

Of course, when they are freed, they will face an interesting future. If they can escape the borders of Russia, I suspect they could enjoy unrivalled publicity in the frenetic and hedonistic world of western pop culture.  Their brief appearance in the cathedral gave us no chance to judge of their musical ability but how many millionaire British pop stars would have failed a similar test?

A final thought. If these young women had lived in a Moslem fundamentalist state and had done the same thing in a mosque, what would have been their fate? Shorter and sharper, I suspect. Dragged by a howling mob outside the building and stoned to death on the spot is my guess.

About Keith R Mitchell CBE

Qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1967. Pursued a successful career in financial training and publishing until selling his interests in 1990. Elected a County Councillor for the Bloxham Division in 1989. Leader of Oxfordshire County Council 5 November 2001 to 15 May 2012. Chairman of the South East England Regional Planning Committee July 2002 to July 2005. Chairman of the South East England Regional Assembly July 2005 to July 2008. In HM the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours, appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of services to local government.
This entry was posted in Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s